Professor Paul Martin Brakefield FRS
Chair in Evolutionary Biology, Leiden University and University of Sheffield
Examples of adaptive radiation through Darwinian evolution will always enthral, and the theory of natural selection binds biology. But is selection all-powerful? Brakefield explores how the processes that generate phenotypic variation contribute to shaping patterns of evolution. His experimental work with butterflies links genetic variation to phenotypes through the study of development and physiology, and assesses the ecological relevance of these phenotypes by analyses of fitness. This integrative approach has demonstrated that a gene controlling development harbours variation which can contribute to evolutionary change, and reveals that shared development of two traits is not enough to constrain their independent evolution.